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Potholes and snirt

April is a trying time in Maine. There are piles of snirt (snow and dirt – really ugly) still lying around. The potholes are outrageous and some of them threaten to snap
the axle on my Mini Cooper. Here is a very topical poem by my friend John McVeigh of Portland, Maine, a lawyer and accomplished poet. His Moon Pie Press poetry collection is called Burning Chairs.

Frost Heaves

Under the fields and forests, peaceful giants sleep.
The land rises and falls with their breaths.
But, imprisoned under paved roads, they are restless.
A toe wriggles a crack, a bent knee humps up a ridge,
A heaving chest lifts up an entire slab.
Mile-long giants lie under every back road,
Cracking them along straightaways, cracking them just around curves,
Surprising oblivious speeders into wheel alignments
And front end work, reminders that we are not gods.



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The Little Boys

For the season

McVeigh, John P.

Mar 28 at 6:17 PM

ToMoon Pie Press

Message body

Frost Heaves

Under the fields and forests, peaceful giants sleep.

The land rises and falls with their breaths,

But, imprisoned under paved roads, they are restless.

A toe wriggles a crack, a bent knee humps up a ridge,

A heaving chest lifts up an entire slab.

Mile-long giants lie under every back road,

Cracking them along straightaways, cracking them just around curves,

Surprising oblivious speedsters into wheel alignments

And front end work, reminders that we are not gods.

John P. McVeigh
207.791.3000 Tel
Bio | Twitter |

One City Center
P.O. Box 9546
Portland, ME 04112-9546

This E-Mail may contain information that is privileged, confidential and / or exempt from discovery or disclosure under applicable law. Unintended transmission shall not constitute waiver of the attorney-client or any other privilege. If you are not the intended recipient of this communication, and have received it in error, please do not distribute it and notify me immediately by E-mail at or via telephone at 207.791.3000 and delete the original message. Unless expressly stated in this e-mail, nothing in this message or any attachment should be construed as a digital or electronic signature or as a legal opinion.

So fresh and so clean.


“Spring” in Maine takes its time

The calendar tells us it’s spring, but in Maine we still have a lot of snow lying around. Some snowdrops and crocus have made a brave appearance. As the earth awakens, here is a poem that is not about spring. Spring poems will follow in the coming weeks.


PHYSICS SAYS: go to sleep. Of course
you’re tired. Every atom in you
has been dancing the shimmy in silver shoes
nonstop from mitosis to now.
Quit tapping your feet. They’ll dance
inside themselves without you. Go to sleep.

GEOLOGY SAYS: it will be all right. Slow inch
by inch America is giving itself
to the ocean. Go to sleep. Let darkness
lap at your sides. Give darkness an inch.
You aren’t alone. All of the continents used to be
one body. You aren’t alone. Go to sleep.

ASTRONOMY SAYS: the sun will rise tomorrow.
ZOOLOGY SAYS: on rainbow-fish and lithe gazelle.
PSYCHOLOGY SAYS: but first it has to be night, so
BIOLOGY SAYS: the body-clocks are stopped all over town and
HISTORY SAYS: here are the blankets, layer on layer, down and down.

Albert Goldbarth

A snowy stretch of New England winter


I’m not going to wax lyrical about the beauty of a snow-covered landscape. Frankly, I am sick of winter and the repeated storms we’ve been getting in Maine. A friend remarked that it has been an ibuprofen winter. Too much shoveling. But my Camden friend, poet Dave Morrison, posted this little poem today online, and I thought I’d share it. Wherever you are, hope you are reading and writing and weathering the storms.

In this morning’s
daydream, the snowblower
became a plow, and I
walked behind it in
long straight lines,
sowing the seeds
of spring.

Poetry for an elegiac season


Autumn in New England, of course, is spectacular, but it also brings a sense of loss and drawing in, as days shorten, we finally turn the heat on, and batten down the house for winter. We resurrect our jackets, gloves and flannel sheets. The garden slowly dies.

Here is one of my favorite poems about fall, bittersweet like the season. I chose this for my mother’s memorial service program in June; she liked the poem.  Our mutual love of poetry (and reading) was one of our strongest bonds.

from “Autumn Sonnets” by May Sarton

If I can let you go as trees let go
Their leaves, so casually, one by one;
If I can come to know what they do know,
That fall is the release, the consummation,
Then fear of time and the uncertain fruit
Would not distemper the great lucid skies
This strangest autumn, mellow and acute.
If I can take the dark with open eyes
And call it seasonal, not harsh or strange
(For love itself may need a time of sleep),
And, treelike, stand unmoved before the change,
Lose what I lose to keep what I can keep,
The strong root still alive under the snow,
Love will endure – if I can let you go.

Literary lights in Ireland


I recently returned from a week in Ireland, mostly in Dublin – my first visit. One of the many things I love about Dublin is its very public homage to literary figures — Wilde, Joyce, Yeats, Behan and many more. I went on a literary pub crawl one night, a tourist-y but worthwhile event in which a small group went from pub to pub, led by two gifted professional actors who performed choice bits from the writings of Wilde, Beckett, Behan, Joyce and Eavan Boland. (The only other place I’ve been that honors writers so openly is Russia, where statues of writers abound in Moscow and St. Petersburg.) Dublin is large enough to be sophisticated and diverse, but not big enough to be intimidating, and I found Dubliners to be unfailingly polite, friendly and helpful, despite being overrun by 7 million tourists a year. A different facet of the city is that the dark side of the history of Ireland, its famines and oppression, is not forgotten in the midst of modernity. In Dublin Castle I stood in the room where James Connolly, commandant of the Dublin Brigade in the Easter 1916 uprising against the British, was brought to lie badly wounded, with a bullet in his leg. Soon after, he was carried on a stretcher to Kilmainham Gaol courtyard, tied to a chair and executed by firing squad. He was 47. John Lennon said that his song “Woman Is The Nigger of the World” was inspired by Connolly’s quotation “The female is the slave of the slave.”
Above is the famous, somewhat peculiar statue of Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square, Dublin.

Here is a poem by Eavan Boland.


Here is the city —
its worn-down mountains,
its grass and iron,
its smoky coast
seen from the high roads
on the Wicklow side.

From Dalkey Island
to the North Wall,
to the blue distance seizing its perimeter,
its old divisions are deep within it.

And in me also.
And always will be.

Out of my mouth they come:
The spurred and booted garrisons.
The men and women
they dispossessed.

What is a colony
if not the brutal truth
that when we speak
the graves open.

And the dead walk?


William Maxwell – marvelous editor and writer

Wm Maxwell

Today I’d like to recommend a wonderful writer, William Keepers Maxwell, (1908-2000) whose work I have been immersed in. I knew he was a distinguished editor; he was at The New Yorker from 1936 to 1975, and was the editor of such luminaries as Salinger, John Cheever, Frank O’Connor and Eudora Welty. He was a quiet man who did little to promote himself or his own work. He cared about editing in an old-fashioned way and practiced it with dedication. I recently read a big volume of his early novels and stories (published by Library of America), which is excellent. At his best, I think he is as good as Cheever, which is high praise. One of Maxwell’s better known stories that was published in the New Yorker is “The Thistles in Sweden,” a masterpiece. He is very good at elegiac descriptions of the past and evocations of worlds that don’t exist any more, such as France shortly after World War II. His humor is dry and his observations of people are fascinating. Maxwell’s literary reputation has apparently grown since his death. I highly recommend his stories and novels to you. Benjamin Cheever said of Maxwell’s carefully crafted prose, “…it can be read like poetry.”

Publishing poetry – a privilege

books cat tapestry

I’ve been publishing poetry books since 2003 – 91 of them, including many anthologies. I hope to keep doing it for a long time. I feel sure that I will never run out of excellent poetry manuscripts to turn into books. There are so few outlets for poetry if you don’t get accepted by an academic press or go the self-publishing route. I turn down at least ten manuscripts for each one I accept. They continue to pour in via email and “over the transom”, as the publishers used to say, in snail mail. I love the book design part of the job, too. (Note: please email me before sending an unsolicited manuscript.) In a good year, I publish six books and break even without personally subsidizing the business. If you care about poetry, you can help by buying Moon Pie Press books either from the website or from poets at readings. Come to readings. Support poets. Give their books as gifts.

Here is a short poem by Andrew Periale of New Hampshire, from his 2016 calendar A Woodland Sketchbook, featuring art by his wife Bonnie Periale.

Broad-Winged Hawk

He kills without remorse
And much of what he eats is garden pests.
Raccoons and bears will raid his nests,
So nature strikes a balance in due course.
He flies four thousand miles to breeding range.
Monogamous, he finds himself a mate
and then with up to four eggs they are blest.
This compact hawk is territorial,
long-lived, diurnal, predatorial
and glides on currents like a swift corsair.
A monarch of the northern boreal,
its voice a shrill slice in the sylvan air.